Digestive Health and You

A well-functioning digestive system is vital for good health. And I should know.

My journey to naturopathy as a vocation and a career has so much to do with digestive health. At age 19, I was afflicted with a previously unknown form of amoebic dysentery that wreaked havoc on my life and health. At the same time, I contracted Giardia and was unable to function properly.

If we keep our digestive tract flowing and functioning well, we can do a lot to help with general health and preventative measures against disease and sickness. But if our digestive tract becomes sick or inflamed or imbalanced, the body’s capacity to process and absorb nutrients and vitamins and minerals is severely compromised. We may be eating the right foods and drinking the right herb teas, but our gut is so sick it cannot absorb the goodness.

This can spell disaster for health and lead to all sorts of complications and physiological weaknesses. Ill health ensues and our body’s ability to fight off infection and illness is eroded. The downward spiral begins. And it can take a lot to get the body back on track again.

The Digestive System

The Gastroenterological Society of Australia states that a healthy digestive system is required for optimal health.[1]

The digestive system is made up of:

  • Throat and mouth
  • Oesophagus
  • Stomach
  • Small intestine
  • Large intestine
  • Anus
  • Liver
  • Pancreas
  • Gallbladder[2]

Each has a specific function and role to play in the absorption of nutrients and excretion of waste from the body.

Keeping the Digestive System Healthy

The digestive system works 24/7 around the clock – while we go about our daily business, while we sleep, while we work and while we play. We can help it to function properly by following a few simple steps. These include:

  • Eat slowly and chew food thoroughly
  • Eating a diet high in fibre (30 grams daily at least)
  • Cut down on processed foods and fats
  • Eating a well balanced diet
  • Keeping up with exercise
  • Keeping stress levels low
  • No smoking (causes backflow of stomach acid into oesophagus)
  • Reduce alcohol (causes stomach inflammation)
  • Eat lots of papaya and pawpaw which contains enzymes that help the digestive tract

Natural Remedies

Natural remedies, Chinese Medicine herbs, and homeopathic and Ayurvedic treatments also help to maintain the digestive tract.

A probiotic formula can be a wonderful toner and conditioner that promotes healthy bacterial growth. This healthy probiotic bacteria combats and wards off the pathogenic bacteria that can cause you discomfort and pain.

Herbal remedies that help with digestion include:

  • Aloe
  • Licorice
  • Dandelion

Remember to keep your digestive system happy.

And remember to have fun keeping healthy and energised.

[1] http://gesa.org.au/digestive_system.cfm

[2] ibid